~Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Grand(mother) Scheme of Things

Abraham and his parents agreed to not tell Bubbie, his Orthodox Jewish grandmother, about me just yet. The reasons varied: she had previously not taken an interfaith relationship well, and it would have broken Abe's heart to disappoint her.

"She's really important to me. I want you two to get along," he explained once.

"So just tell her something really bad so I won't be so bad in comparison. 'Bubs, I'm quitting my job and moving home with my parents. Just kidding. I have a girlfriend and she isn't Jewish.'"

Abe snorted.

"When are you going to tell her?"

"I wanted to tell her in person."

"So Hanukkah?"


But Abraham didn't get the chance. After seeing our pictures together crop up on Facebook followed by becoming Facebook official, a cousin told his mom, who in turn told Bubbie. Bubbie then logged on Facebook and saw for herself.

"Abraham, the one who made me a Bubbie," she wrote on his profile, "HUH????????????? (re: relationship)."

Oh shit.

Abraham called her after work and told her about me. But instead of being angry about my religion, she was angry that he waited so long to tell her.

"She didn't even ask if you were Jewish until like the 15th question," he told me. "It was way later than I thought it was going to be."

Bubbie was elated. She loved her grandson and wanted him to be happy. She asked him if she could write me an email.

"She would love that," he told her.

"Okay, but I'll send it to you first so you can proofread it," she said.

By the weekend a card arrived in Abraham's mailbox addressed to me in care of him. Bubbie didn't write an email. She handwrote a letter.

Sunday evening Abraham handed me the envelope. "Read it," he smiled.

I sat on his bed, dumbfounded that his family was taking this kind of care of me. The letter was beautiful and I struggled not to cry as I read it out loud. She wrote that she had a special bond with her oldest grandson and that if he loved me, she loved me.

"I'm going to impart some wisdom of my 80-something years," she wrote. "Be good to each other, love each other and be each other's best friends."

I looked at Abraham and swallowed a lump. It was all so beautiful.

"And don't shlep this out," I read. I looked at him again, "Shlep?" I didn't know what the phrase meant.

Abraham shrugged.

I googled the word. "'Shlep. A person who is dimwitted. An idiot.' What? That makes no sense."

"I don't know," he offered. "Do you want to call her now?"


Abraham dialed Bubbie on speakerphone. She asked if I got the letter. He angled the phone toward me.

"I did!" I exclaimed.

Bubbie gasped like she was just handed a Publisher's Clearinghouse $100,000 check. "Hi! You just made my day!" she fussed.

I laid on Abraham's shoulder as we spoke to his grandmother. The feeling was bittersweet. I was sad I didn't have any grandparents left to dote on Abraham like his grandmother was treating me. He would receive no such letter.

"Did you get the last sentence?" she asked eagerly.

"Funny you ask, Bubbie." Abraham said. "She didn't and she had to look it up."

"What did it say?"

"It said it was an idiot, but that didn't make sense."

"Oh no!" she cried. "That is a shlepper! 'Shlep' means 'to drag,' as in don't drag this out!"

I laughed hard. She wanted us to get married.

I nestled into Abraham's shoulder. He wouldn't say what he told her on that initial phone call; he simply blamed the blog again. But whatever he told her about me, it must have been wonderful.

There we were, lying on his bed on a Sunday evening and talking to his grandmother. Everyone was laughing and happy. I looked up to Abraham and watched him smile as we spoke to her.

This is it, I thought definitively. I'm done being single. This is the man I'm going to marry.

~Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Home away from Home

Within a six weeks of meeting Abraham's parents, they called the family home; Abraham and his sister were being asked to return to the hometown they had both left. We packed up our respective cars and traversed the East coast. It was the first time I would be meeting his sister's family, the second time I met his parents.

We arrived late into the night and were ushered into the guest bedroom. Singular. As in his parents let us share a room, something I'm positive my parents would not allow despite us being grown adults in our thirties. Joke was on us though, because the guest bedroom housed a day bed and its trundle counterpart. We squished into the day bed, and when Abraham was ready to fall asleep, he rolled precariously to the trundle bed.

Breakfast was at a predetermined time, which I appreciated. We knew what time we had to show ourselves. The brother-in-law produced New York bagels he acquired before he left the city the previous day. Different shmears and cheeses and lox appeared on the counter: my first Jewish breakfast.


A few days before the trip, Abraham held the phone away from his ear. "My family wants to know what kind of bagel you like."


He laughed. "No, that's not an option."

"Why not?" I asked curiously.

"That's not the true New York style."

"It's my bagel," I sulked.

He shook his head.

"So I guess chocolate chip is out of the question too?" I huffed.

He snorted his disapproval.

"Fine. Cinnamon raisin?"

"It's a compromise, I guess." And he put in my cinnamon raisin order.


So there I was with my cinnamon raisin bagel hand carried from New York City. The rest of the family stayed on the salty spectrum of the bagel variety. I watched everyone paint the different cheeses on their bagels and I followed suit. Lox isn't bad. It was all so filling.

I finished two thirds of my bagel and placed the remains on Abraham's plate. Mainly I wanted to avoid having food left on my plate and having to answer questions about whether I enjoyed the breakfast they took so much time and effort to provide me. I did. I was just full.

Abraham picked up my bagel, added more cheese, and ate it.

His mom put her hand on my knee. "Stop feeding him," she ordered gently.

Abraham had gained his own relationship pounds, and his family noticed. Abraham would count each time his family made a comment about it.

"That's two," he said.

After breakfast we headed to the lake to visit family friends and drink and boat. Abraham and his sister informed me that the parents must like me because they made plans. Normally they just sit around the house.

"That or they have plans to get rid of you permanently," my mom joked. "Tie you to some concrete and push you overboard."

But that didn't happen. It was a good afternoon and I lived to tell the tale.

One more bagel breakfast then Abraham and I headed back down South. It was a quick weekend trip. I think we spent more time driving than we actually spent at the house. I liked his sister a lot. Things with his parents were good. There was no heavy talk this time around.

"Take care of my son," his mom gently ordered me again.

"I will."

~Friday, August 17, 2012

Out of Print

"What do you mean you wrote a letter to your family about me?" I asked.

Abraham shrugged. "I dunno. I just wrote an email telling them about you."

"Your whole family?"


"Like aunts and uncles and cousins?"

He nodded.

"What did it say? Can I read it?" I asked excitedly.

"No! You have a whole blog about me, so you can't read my letter."


~Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Boy I Kissed the Most

I've always described Tyler as the boy I kissed the most. I knew he liked me as soon as he stopped putting ice in his milk. It was my freshman year of college, and we'd meet for lunch every day at the dining hall. I laughed at him for putting ice in his milk and he stopped.

Then one day he took me to his dorm after lunch and we kissed. We'd kiss for four hours at a time all over campus: his dorm room, my dorm room, the study lounge. He never pushed me for anything more, not that I had ever done anything more at that point in my life. It was as innocent and respectful a make-out session could be.

One afternoon we stood up from whatever couch we were making out on and Tyler popped a zit in the mirror. I didn't want to make out with him anymore.


I saw Tyler next standing outside my English building. He was wearing yellow and white camouflage pants. I'll never forget those pants. They were hideous. I thought of the zit popping and the yellow camo pants and knew I made a good decision in not kissing him anymore.

He stood on the sidewalk and told me he was going home. Taking a semester off. People don't take a semester off college; they drop out. I wished him well, thinking I would never see him again.


A year later my very first boyfriend dropped me off at the English building. There stood Tyler. The time off served him well. He got his act together. He got cute, very cute. He told me he was back on campus and joined a fraternity. I think I stuttered. The boyfriend noticed and later grilled me on it.


There he was again at my job. The largest employer of university students was a telecommunications company that used us for telemarketing. We had both worked our way to supervisors.

Tyler was everywhere. And this is the thing: we never talked about the making out. I wondered if he even remembered about our freshman year together.


We both ended up in the city. Tyler reconnected over Facebook instant message. His profile revealed that he had the same girlfriend since college. It had been four years and they were doing the long-distance thing. I always invited him out to meet up with our mutual friends Harvey and her husband, but he never actually made it out.


Two years ago I was at happy hour with old coworkers and I kept staring at the boy in the next booth. I leaned to a girl, "That looks like the boy I kissed the most."

Tyler made eye contact and waved. I jumped booths and caught up with him. He was a triathlete. I was just getting a hang of running.


The next time I saw Tyler was on purpose. The local chicken place that everybody loved in college was opening a store in the city. We made plans to eat there together on the opening night. We talked about triathlons. We talked about running. We never talked about kissing.


Facebook revealed that Tyler and his girlfriend broke up. He IMed me late one night, asking that I come over and cuddle since it was so cold. He added as an afterthought that he wasn't into dating at the moment. I declined. I was into dating and not hooking up.


Tyler IMed me this week. It's been a year or so since we last communicated. He asked me about my life: my work, my friends, my relationship.

He's asking me so many questions that he's wanting me to ask him the same, I thought. So I did.

Tyler was vague. He said he was undergoing some big lifestyle changes. He's laying the foundation to transition.

"Like what?" I typed. "You going to marry your girlfriend of the last year?"

"Maybe I will get married one day," he wrote. "But not like you think."

He obviously doesn't want me to know, so I'll just drop it, I thought.

"Actually, the transition I was talking about is becoming female."

I stared at the words. Frat boy Tyler? The triathlete who always has a girlfriend? Who currently has a girlfriend? Clearly he's messing with me.

But... just in case. I'd rather be sensitive and take him seriously and have him go "Just kidding!" over not taking him seriously when he's trying to tell me something.



I re-read his previous statements. "Laying the foundation to transition." He was being serious.

I told Tyler that he was brave. I told him I would always be his friend and I would always support him. This excited him. He wanted to meet in person and introduce me to his alternate self. He started to go into details about how he's been cross-dressing for years. He's even dated men as a woman.

I leaned back into my chair at work and felt my brain explode. Clearly I would not be working the rest of the day. Tyler's always dated women. Tyler still looks like a frat boy. We made out!

I don't know why Tyler told me. I guess it's because we've known each other for 12 years and have always been friendly without being too close. If I never spoke to Tyler again, neither of our lives would change. He wasn't losing anything by coming out to me.


I've never had anyone come out to me before. There were people whom I knew were gay before they came out to the general population, but I've never had anyone sit me down and come out to me.

The only experience I've had with trans people have been related to city life. It's not uncommon to walk into a Walgreens in midtown to refill a prescription and wait next to a man dressed in Lycra, a wig and acrylic nails. I can't believe that's Tyler now.

I find myself searching the recesses of my mind for what I know about this. Transvestite is different than transgender. J. Edgar Hoover was a transvestite. Just because you're transgender (or transvestite) doesn't mean you're gay.

I don't know if Tyler will keep his girlfriend after the operation. I don't know if he'll date men. He did say she wasn't aware of the full extent of his intentions. His family doesn't know. He's a woman at work.

My brain explodes all over again. I'm reliving every interaction we ever had and am searching for indications that Tyler wanted to be a woman. The times we made out, he never pushed further. Was it because we were both young and I, at least, was a virgin? Was it because he knew then? Was this why he was in a long-distance relationship for so long, so he could be straight in pretense? When we ate at the chicken restaurant, he told me a female teacher wanted him and he wasn't really interested. Was it because he was dating men at the time? As a woman?

When he asked me to come over that night, that was after all of this started for him. I said no. Kaboom.

~Thursday, August 09, 2012

Coming Out (as a Blogger)

The sun tried its best to peer through the blinds of the rented condo. On the other side of the blinds was the ocean, but Abraham and I were in no hurry to get to it. I was lazily flipping through channels on TV. Tennis was on for the Olympics, but it's the one sport I can't stand watching. I settled on some reality TV show called Miss Advised. It's about three women who are dating advice columnists, and cameras follow them around to see if they live by the advice they give. Short answer: they don't. It's a terrible show. Don't watch it. There's a lot of whining involved.

One of the girls is a blogger.

Abraham huffed, "I don't understand why people want to read about someone's love life."

I shifted uneasily. "Oh really? Explain."

"It's just that there's too much advice in the world. Everybody's got an opinion on how to do things right. What's wrong with letting things happen naturally without over-analyzing it?"

He has a valid point. When the Singleship shuttered her blog, she wrote that she was tired of analyzing everything. She wanted a bad date to just be a bad date. She didn't want to obsess over it and end up crying on a bar stool. And when the good date does come, she wants to just enjoy it and not rehash everything. She has since removed the post, but she explained it eloquently.

I thought of the blogs I follow. Some I talk about to my real-world friends like they're real people. "I guess you just get involved in people's lives and wish them well," I said.

We had eventually made it to the beach. We lathered each other in sunscreen and splashed in the waves and did all the things that beach goers do. Cold beers in hand, we were enjoying the sitting in the beach chair portion of the trip.

"I still write in a blog," I announced.

We both have dead blogs sitting on the Internet. Abraham told me once that blogging "is so 2010."

"The dead blog?" he asked.

"No, another one."

I described the circumstances that led to me to start this blog: moving to the city for a boyfriend, only to find out he was seeing an ex within two weeks of me picking up my life for him. Then getting fired at my new job because I was upset about the boyfriend and finding myself a post-grad living at home with my mommy.

"And I was just so fucking sad. I was so sad that I needed to purge all the ugly feelings I was feeling inside. I guess the reason I put it on the Internet as opposed to a diary is that I just wanted to know if I was normal, it if was normal to be that sad.

"It's all anonymous," I continued. "I wrote anonymously so I could be uncensored in how pathetic I felt. But I've kept it throughout the years."

"How often do you write in it?" he asked.

"About twice a week."

"Do you write about me?"

"I have."

"Do you complain about me in your blog?" he asked, worried.

I was taken aback. I grabbed his wrist. "There's nothing to complain about."

"Who knows about it?"

"Nobody. Not even my parents. I think they would be proud if they knew about it. They think I've wasted my writing ability."

"Does Harvey know about it?"

"She knows one exists, but she doesn't have access to it."

"South Carolina Bestie?"

"Ah! She knows about it and reads it. We met through the blog. We probably emailed for five years before meeting... Do you know when I describe people to you as my pen pals? They are all people I met through the blog."

"What's my name on the blog?"

"I'm not telling you! Right now it's my private place to write about my feelings. Maybe I'll share it with you in the future, but I'm not ready yet. I've kept the blog for so long that a lot of my past is on it." Read: Put a ring on my finger, let me delete a few posts and then you can have at it.

"Do you have a stat counter on your blog? I have one that still emails me weekly updates on my dead blog. It still gets a random visitor. And I thought only my family read it."

I squirmed again. I knew the answer would make him more curious than I wanted him to be. "I do."

"How many people read your blog?"

"Erm, about 1,000 people a day."


I shrugged. If I didn't make the blog a big deal, he wouldn't either.

"Now I want to read it. Did you tell people I'm 6'2" and 175 pounds?"

"I don't have any identifying features on it to keep it anonymous."

"That will keep it anonymous! They won't know I'm not!"

"Okay, you can be 6'2" and 175 pounds."

He's 6'2" and 175 pounds.

"Did you tell the story of when you threw up all over my bathroom?"

"I did!"

This answer satisfied him for some reason.

"Can people comment on your blog?"

"They can, but I turned off anonymous comments. You have to have an account. Like you were saying earlier, everyone has an opinion and advice to give. It was starting to confuse me."

"What were they saying?"

"For starters, they said that we would never work because you're Jewish and I'm not. More than one person accused me of writing fiction and that my life was not my life." I left out the part where everyone went into a tizzy because they were convinced I was in a secret sex relationship.

He snorted.

The conversation petered out. I felt like I was being dishonest with him by having the blog (and the email and the Twitter accounts) without him knowing. He's the first person about whom I've felt that way. I didn't feel dishonest with the others.

There were two things I wanted to emphasize when I told Abraham that I had an anonymous blog: it wasn't a big deal, and it was private. I think I accomplished both. And of course, because Abraham is Abraham, he didn't care. He'll respect my privacy until I'm ready. Whenever that will be.

~Thursday, August 02, 2012


Abraham's roommate was given four tickets to a charity event for the city's conservatory. It was one of those richie-rich events that we wouldn't normally throw our money at, so we were grateful for the free invite.

The event was okay. We all agreed that if we actually paid for it, we'd all be disappointed. But it had an open bar and games to play. The boys headed to the basketball contest. The roommate and I headed to the fortune teller.

I'd been to one before, oddly at another charity mixer years ago. The only thing I remember her telling me was that there would be a lot of boys in my future. I don't know if I ever disclosed this, but someone later spotted her in Barnes & Noble reading a tarot card book. Ha.

This fortune teller boasted that she had read a news anchor's fortune on the air. She flipped a few cards over from a deck I had never seen before. Then she confirmed news that only a few close friends knew about: I was a brand new aunt. For privacy reasons I hadn't posted it on Facebook or Twitter. She asked about the date and I gave one to her. She flipped over another card and corrected the date. She was right.

"You haven't met the baby."

"I have not."

She flipped more cards. "But you will in the next month."

"I am!"

I liked her. So far I was impressed.

"Do you journal?"

I thought of my blog. I confirmed. She told me I will write a book based off my journals and it will be a best seller. I laughed and clapped. I'm a little lazy for that, but the idea is nice.

She asked me if I was divorced. I am not. She asked Abraham's name and birth date and did something with the numbers.

"Is he stubborn?"

Abraham's roommate guffawed loudly. I personally don't see him as very stubborn, but the roommate has about 15 years on me.

"Do you want to know if you'll get married? Do you want to marry this one?"

I nodded wildly. She flipped more cards over. Over and over and over. The marriage card never appeared.

"He's a stubborn one. He won't change his mind for four years. But this love is a miracle in your life."

Then she wrote down the name of a store and told me to go there and buy the kits she specified. If I spent $150 on lavender candles, he'd marry me sooner.

It was the roommate's turn. Oh, her boyfriend is her soul mate. He's flawless. Their love is also a miracle and they will definitely get married. That marriage card appeared so fast. She doesn't even have to buy a kit. Hmph.

I returned to Abraham.

"What'd she say?"

"She said that the roommate's boyfriend is perfect and you're not."

The boyfriend heard and snorted.

"She said you won't marry me for four more years. But they--" I pointed sarcastically at his roommate, "They're soul mates! I have to spend $150 on a kit for you and an additional $50 on a kit to get over my daddy issues. The roommate doesn't have to spend any money," I mocked.

Abraham put his arm around my shoulders.

"Aww, that just means she knows a sucker when she sees one."


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